Intelligent use of data earns consumer trust

As the lines between marketing and service blur, brands must use both behavioural and volunteered data to deliver communications that meet consumer demands.

Dan Brooksbank
Media insight manager, MMC

In today’s competitive landscape, companies simply cannot afford to ignore the basics for any given campaign, direct marketing included.

Yet our own independent insight (see shows that more than a third of respondents rate their data quality as poor at best. Just 4% rate it as excellent.

It would be a very poor marketer that doesn’t give this due attention, especially when considering that 50% of adults would not even open a piece of mail if it was addressed to “the occupier”. And 33% wouldn’t open it if their name was spelt incorrectly (TGI figures, 2010, Q1).

Deficient data quality will massively impair a company’s ability to ever fully realise the potential return on investment available. Companies are not even measuring this; our insight shows that 63% of respondents report their organisation has made no attempt to calculate the cost to the business of errors in data that arose from poor data quality.

On the MMC website, there are more than 205 pieces of content relating to data and yet these fundamental failings continue. The MMC website also offers access to specialist data consultants who can advise on the tools needed to obtain data, maintain its accuracy and build a picture of customers as they communicate with you.

Here are three golden rules to follow if you are to get the most from your customer data:

1. Keep it clean – always capture any changes your customer provides;
2. Build a picture – every purchase and communication your customers make gives you an opportunity to learn more about them and therefore service them in the best way possible; and
3. Get it right – ensure you capture the correct permissions to use the data you’ve collected.

On a closing note, the strand of data that is becoming really powerful for marketers is consumer insight. It’s not only important to understand the individual you want to reach but engage them and evoke a reaction.

Visit for more free information on reaching customers.


2010 predictions

Adrian Gregory
Chair of the IDM Data Council and chief executive of DQM Group

Companies will put an increasing amount of emphasis on data governance. That will be driven by a regulatory requirement, with potential ICO fines of up to £500,000, and the recognition that they need to build trust with their customers, which requires honesty and a willingness to give the consumer what they want.

Mark Roy
Chair of the DMA Data Council

The general election result will have the biggest impact on DM over the next year. There are going to be massive cuts in public sector spending and people are going to have to work a great deal harder. What we’ve got now is the new norm. I think the slightly more targeted, frugal way of doing business is much better. We’ll see a need for major brands to understand that working more closely with consumers is where the future lies.

Paul Kennedy
Head of consulting at Callcredit Information Group

We’re going to see a maturing of social initiatives, with organisations considering how to properly integrate them into the business – a kind of coming of age for social media. We’re seeing the continued rise of mobile platforms, such as Android and marketers are exploring how those can be used as integrated techniques.

Sam Jordan
Managing director, Baber Smith

Truly personalised marketing is an achievable goal; there are more channels through which we can communicate directly with customers and our ability to interact with them has improved massively.

However, matching the possibilities and the practice is always the tricky bit. The mistakes that digital made a decade ago are being replicated in mobile and social media, most notably too greater focus on the technological possibilities and not enough on the consumer.

Email is still being under-used while simultaneously being over-used. Last year’s marketing budget cuts meant lots more email but it’s not a cheaper alternative to direct mail or a genuine CRM programme. It’s a channel that needs its own approach, which is integrated into the whole customer experience.

Richard Madden
Planning director at Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw

The next step forward is going to be towards simple data display and interpretation, rather than more analysis. It will involve visualising what the data is telling us in a way that will be compelling to board-level marketers. The “data people” tend to be quite obsessed with detail. If you’re a board-level marketer, you have to do it with one picture on one chart. I think software and talent that enables you to reduce enormous amounts of data into simple, largely visual displays will be a very valuable commodity in the months and years ahead.

Alex Walsh
Associate director at the DMA

Some people think that with the recession and the economic climate, the environmental issue has been put on the back burner but nothing I have heard suggests that that is the case. A lot of what we’ll have to do is governed by Brussels, in terms of European Union directives. The pressure is still going to be there and if the industry wants to be sustainable, then it’s going to have to make sure that it addresses those government and public concerns that it’s being wasteful.

Steven Plimsoll
Vice-president for multichannel marketing services Europe at Acxiom

Direct mail will never be replaced, but the way it is used is evolving. Before any material is posted out, marketers must now think about the value of the customer, timing and the value of the product itself.

Direct mail is very much a complementary channel to other means of communication such as email. The challenge is moving from ad-hoc mailing to being part of a more integrated, real-time campaign. Marketers can now target direct mail to respond to an individual’s past interaction with a brand, as a triggered response. In this way they can alter the content, tone and the offer itself of any direct mailer, which supports successful long-running campaigns. DM can then fit around customer preferences so that printing and postage costs aren’t wasted.


Top tips you need to know

  • Failing to safeguard consumer data leads to negative media coverage, brand damage and regulatory fines.
  • Use a combination of behavioural data and volunteered data to deliver marketing that is indistinguishable from service.
  • Don’t just ask for volunteered personal information; observe how consumers interact with your brand and introduce VPI gathering content at a relevant point.
  • Monitor how people are moving through your website as individuals and link that data back to other things the customer is doing with your brand.